OS WEEKEND FICTION
Scene: A bench in Central Park, New York City
Cast: Ruth and Leo, an older married couple, eating lunch
Two homeless young men.
Ruth: Listen carefully, this won’t be easy for you to hear.
Leo (shrugging): So don’t tell me.
Ruth: You really need to hear this, Leo.
Leo: You think I need to hear it. I don’t. I’m not listening. My ears are closed. I have wax. (Waving a spear of dill pickle) I’m out to lunch.
Ruth: You are always out to lunch. I can never have a serious conversation with you.
Leo: Sure, you can . Every Tuesday between one and four I am available for serious conversation. Better book early though.
Ruth: Leo, you know that’s when my bridge group plays.
Leo (shrugging) That’s tough.
Ruth: Three hours a week. You begrudge me a crummy three hours a week to be with my friends?
Leo: Good! Plenty of time for you to tell each other things you don’t want to hear and to leave your poor husbands alone.
Ruth: I think you are losing touch with reality, Leo.
Leo: Your reality. Maybe there are other realities. Maybe there are parallel universes where we are sitting on this bench discussing how to spend a million dollars and not waiting to hear things we don't want to hear.
Ruth: So now you’re a scientist? Watching “Through the Wormhole” doesn’t make you a scientist, Leo.
Leo (shrugging) And watching “Dancing with the Stars” doesn’t make you Ginger Rogers.
Ruth: Don't try to confuse me, Leo. I think you are saying the same thing I am saying.
Leo: If we are both saying the same thing, we don’t need to talk. We can just eat our sandwiches and say the same thing to each other inside our heads.
Ruth: You never want to hear bad news.
Leo: Wrong, Ruth! I love bad news! I love it when the accountant calls to say my pension is heading for the toilet. I jump with joy when the doctor tells me I have the Alzheimer. It’s like Christmas when I hear my son is divorcing. You’re wrong, Ruth, bad news to me is like manna from heaven, and you, my dear, are the Moses of bad news, a nattering nabob of negativism, a burning bush of calamity!
Ruth: Don't be so dramatic, dear. You don’t have Alzheimer’s. You’re just forgetful.
Leo: I don’t forget the bad stuff, Ruth.
Ruth: And you’re talking too loud. Those people at the next bench are looking over.
(Leo leans forward and looks toward the neighboring bench. He sees two scruffily dressed young men)
Leo: They’re bums! Who cares what they think? They’re bums.
Ruth: Not so loud! Oh dear, now one of them is coming over.
Leo: Oh, great! Now we're going to get mugged. We couldn’t eat in the deli. We had to eat in the park, because you had something to tell me. Have you told me anything? No! You had bad news? Well here's real bad news: we're getting mugged. I hope you’re happy.
(An unshaven young man wobbles over to their bench)
Young man: Hey, mister, can you spare some change.
Leo: Spare change? No, I can’t spare a dime. I need every cent. No point in mugging me, because all I have is this pickle.
(He holds out his sagging spear of dill to the young man who takes it and wanders back to his bench gazing at the pickle in a confused manner.)
Leo: Great! He took my pickle. I have a pastrami sandwich and no pickle. That's great. Great lunch this turned out to be.
Ruth: You offered him your pickle, Leo. You were trying to be smart, as usual. You offered him your pickle because you didn’t think he would take it, but he did. Now you don’t have a pickle. It was a limp pickle anyway.
Leo: Don’t go there, Ruth. I don’t want to hear it!